TINPUTZ - Education is a powerful tool in enhancing the future of our children and the role of the teacher is a challenging one.
Some say that being a teacher is tiring. Of course, teachers do a lot of talking and paperwork like preparing lessons but for many the job is like a wedding vow: Till death us do part.
Here’s my account of a typical day in a rural boarding high school for a duty teacher. It’s probably a similar scenario to that faced in other schools.
The alarm goes off at 4:50 am. I say a prayer and jump out of bed to cook breakfast. Then I wake the girls in their dormitories to do a 30 minute morning charge. Another colleague on duty also wakes the boys in their dormitory to do the same.
After morning charge, students have their bath while I move to the mess to check if breakfast is ready. Then I rush home to have a bath and breakfast before returning to the mess to supervise the students’ breakfast.
Then follows morning devotion followed by assembly. The duty teachers must be present for both. Then Period 1 starts. The day is very busy with students and teachers moving in and out of classrooms according to the timetable.
When there is a free period for the teacher, it is a great opportunity to do some marking.
After classes finish at 3pm, another assembly is conducted for the work line or sports. Whichever activity is conducted, supervision is important as the duty teachers move around making sure students are at their work areas or playing on the field if it is a sports day.
Other colleagues help with this afternoon activity. While walking around supervising, the duty teacher must not forget to go to the mess to check that dinner is being prepared by the cook.
When the students go to have their bath, I have one hour to rush home to quickly cook dinner and come back to the mess to supervise the students dinner even though the mess prefect is there keeping a watchful eye.
Evening worship is after dinner and then night study. Student leaders sometimes direct the evening worship but it is important that a duty teacher is present. During night study, attendance is marked off on a check list.
If during the hours of study a student is reported as sick, I return to the dormitory to check that all is OK while the other duty teacher steps in for night study. If required, the school nurse will then attend to the sick student.
If the situation is worse, we arrange for a vehicle to take the sick student to hospital accompanied by a teacher or some classmates.
During night study, the duty teachers make sure no students are moving about until the study period is over. The only exception is for students who need clarification on assignments and homework.
When night study ends at 9:00pm, the duty teachers send the students to their dormitories and try to do some catching - marking assignments or setting tests or preparing lessons.
The school generator is usually switched off at 10 but if there is an urgent need for photocopying and printing, it may be switched off at 10:30.
Before walking home, the duty teachers must make sure the students are in bed and not moving unnecessarily outside the dormitories.
Teachers may then rest for the day but, if there is a disciplinary issue that has popped up, that is thought through.
Such issues do happen. Students do mischievous things.
On the other hand, it’s great to shape students to be who they are in the future with Christian discipline and instruction. This is done by counselling by the chaplain and through announcements at assemblies.
So let me sum up. Teachers teach, care for sick students, help to cook and even teach students to bake, do agricultural work, advise students like counsellors, attend church and pray, sing and play music, and care for the students like their parents.
If teachers go through their attendance roll book and realise a student is not coming to classes, it worries them and they will find out more about the absence.
There is no favouritism with teachers; they have to be fair and just. There has to be a common understanding that a teacher is meant to help all students regardless of who they are or where they come from.
There are times when one is posted to rural areas and may not like staying there. But let the chorus of this hymnal manifest in one’s heart: “I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, over mountain, or plain or sea, I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord, I’ll be what You want me to be.”
The best feeling a teacher has is when a student excels in education or becomes a community leader or has a productive life in another sphere. This brings a smile to a teacher’s face.
To parents, students, teachers and everyone involved in making education possible, remember we must stand together and support each other.